OLD Media Moves

Shifting coverage of government toward a business focus

October 16, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

More journalism needs to cover the federal and state governments as if they were businesses, said Matt Winkler, editor in chief of Bloomberg News, in a speech Tuesday night.

Bloomberg’s new service called Bloomberg Government, which launched at the beginning of 2011 set out to “cover the governnment as a business because it is a business,” said Winkler in a speech at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Instead of covering the bloody sport of politics, what the coverage needs to do is really focus on government and its contractors and how the government does business every day,” said Winkler.

Winkler spent about 35 minutes discussing Bloomberg’s coverage of the U.S. economy since the federal government’s debt rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s in August 2011, and then he answered questions from two student business journalists before a crowd of approximately 200. Winkler also answered questions from the audience.

When asked why much of the election coverage focused on the unemployment rate, Winkler noted the importance of jobs in the economy but also suggested that business journalists spend more time examining home sales, housing starts, retail sales and new car sales.

A group of executive editors at Bloomberg News are constantly thinking about three or four big stories related to the campaign and assigning those stories to a team of reportings. “It’s collaborative, and the ideas are coming from a variety of places,” he said.

Winkler also lauded the work of Bloomberg reporter Greg Stohr, who was the first to correctly report the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare this summer. “The area where he as particularly astute and prepared was in reading the ruling on the mandate,” said Winkler. “He was determined to find the answer in the decision.”

Bloomberg is doing a better job of covering the current election than in 2008, Winkler said, because it is using more data to illustrate stories. “If we have made an improvment, it is in the ability to show with more data,” he said.

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